X-Men was one of the first Marvel film franchises to hit the big screen. The first entry came from Fox in 2000 and introduced fans to the universe full of mutants from the comics.
Over the years the story has evolved massively and the roster of characters has grown to expand to most of the canonical universe. Furthermore, Marvel Studios has taken back the rights to these iconic characters folding them into the greater universe of the MCU.
As it stands, there have been 14 X-Men films released by Fox. For those looking to watch through the franchise, it can be confusing to find a starting point. This is because the X-Men: Days of Future Past took the story back in time, essentially starting an entirely new timeline with the only returning character being Hugh Jackman’s Logan, the Wolverine.
Before the X-Men make their grand MCU debut, why not get up to speed on everything you may have missed? In this article, we will be sharing the order that is ideal for getting a grasp of the entire story in the order that it unfolds.
What order should I watch the X-Men films in?
Because of the two timelines that exist within the X-Men film universe, there will be some continuity errors when trying to take in each film one after another, however, this is the best order to do so.
- X-Men: First Class
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine
- X-Men Apocalypse
- X-Men: Dark Pheonix
- X2: X-Men United
- X-Men: The Last Stand
- The Wolverine
- Deadpool 2
- The New Mutants
X-Men First Class
It makes sense that First Class is the film to start the series off with. The film was released after the original trilogy of X-Men films, but as a prequel, it gives us a glimpse of the past of characters Professor Xavier, Magneto, and the formation of the X-Men. The film also works as the perfect point to bridge into the Days of Future Past timeline of movies.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
While this movie does begin in the dystopian future of 2023, it quickly moves to 1973, back with the cast from First Class with the time-travelling addition of Wolverine. The plot of this film is centered around stopping Mystique from assassinating the inventor of the mutant killing machines called Sentinels. Although it does have timeline implications, it makes the most sense for this to be second, due to the massive time skip at the start of the film.
Sticking with the Days of Future Past timeline, X-Men Apocalypse is up next, bringing viewers their very first introduction to characters like Jean Grey, Psylocke, Cyclops, and of course Apocalypse. The film works to build out the timeline from Days of Future Past while taking characters in a different direction to their counterparts in the original films. Giving Apocalypse this spot in the watch order will reduce the continuity errors to come once you get to the original films.
X-Men: Dark Pheonix
In what wound up becoming the final X-Men film produced by Fox, Dark Phoenix took a darker retelling of the story in X-Men: The Last Stand‘s source material – the iconic Dark Phoenix Saga. This film takes place eight years after the events of Apocalypse and centers around the tale of Jean Grey. While this story is one of the most beloved in the comic franchise, its cinematic adaption didn’t quite hit the mark and has been heavily criticized by fans and general moviegoers alike.
Following this watch order, this is where you’ll notice a shift back in time to showcase the events prior to Wolverine traveling to the past.
2016’s Deadpool brought the reintroduction of the character this time more true to his comic-book self. The movie followed the mercenary Wade Wilson, expertly portrayed by Ryan Reynolds, in a story that explained the character’s origins and provided brutally violent scenes with an ample amount of punchlines to suit. The fourth-wall-breaking mutant, Deadpool is definitely beloved amongst the X-Men fans.
Released a few years later, Deadpool 2 continues on the story from the first film, introducing new characters such as Cable and Domino, even including a reimagined version of the mutant Juggernaught (who was also featured in The Last Stand). Under David Lietch’s direction, they knocked it out of the park again, getting the balance between serious action and comedic entertainment that the Deadpool character is known for.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The first spin-off film to be released in theatres, Origins: Wolverine as the name suggests gives viewers an in-depth watch of how Logan came to be the mutant Wolverine. While the story and action are fine, if not nearly as good as some of the other movies in the series, Origins: Wolverine will always be known for its universally panned portrayal of Deadpool in the film’s climax.
Shifting back to the first X-Men film to see a cinematic release, this is where fans will begin to notice a stark change in tone. This film is mostly centered around Wolverine, Rogue, and how they came to join the X-Men. We also learn of the civil war between Mutants spearheaded by Magneto. Now that you’ve reached this point in the timeline, the rest of the movies begin to flow a lot more seamlessly.
Centred around an investigation into Professor Xavier’s school for mutants, Colonel William Stryker uses his son’s mind control abilities to attempt to force Professor X into killing all mutants. The film also explains how Wolverine wound up with adamantium his claws.
X-Men: The Last Stand
The plot of The Last Stand can at times feel very similar to Dark Phoenix, with Jean Grey eventually losing control over her powers, which makes sense given that they’re both adapted from the Dark Phoenix Saga in the comics. However, the main difference is that this movie is centred around a civil war between mutants after a vaccine is created that reverses the effects of the X-gene. This fan-favorite film boasts the largest collection of comic characters from any of the films in the series and ends with an exceptional final battle.
The second spin-off film in the X-Men series, The Wolverine follows Logan after the events of The Last Stand as he is invited to Japan by a person from his past. The film doesn’t really add a lot to the overall story of the X-Men films, but it is full of badass fight scenes and Wolverine doing what he does best.
The New Mutants
The most recent X-Men film to launch and the very first after Disney’s acquisition of Fox, The New Mutants is a difficult one to place on the timeline. Starring a brand new cast of mutants there are few direct connections to the original X-Men series, but thanks to the film’s writer Josh Boone, it takes place on the timeline of the original movies, before Wolverine has traveled back in time during Days of Future Past. With this information, we know it can’t take place after logan so it likely takes place around the same time as the Deadpool sequel, while not on the same timeline as during that reality Deadpool encounters the Days of Future Past cast.
The final film in the Fox X-Men timeline and likely Hugh Jackman’s last time in the role of Wolverine, Logan is the most unique of any film in the series, taking on a much more mature tone to tell the final story of some of X-Men’s most important characters. This road-trip style film is centered around Logan, Professor X, and a child called Laura. Logan is the perfect send-off to the series and the most emotionally gripping X-Men film so far. This is a must-watch.